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Hannah Zakon is a World Bnei Akiva Alumna born in Azerbaijan, raised in New Zealand made Aliyah a few months ago and is celebrating her first Yom Ha'atzmaut in Israel. " Aliyah is not the destination, life is. Living in the land of Israel is the objective."
I have often heard that the decision to make Aliyah is one of the most difficult decisions to make.
I could not disagree with this more. Not because I can not see the pros and cons or because I think that making Aliyah is easy – far from it. But because it never crossed my mind as an active decision. The same way that I do not ‘decide’ to stop at a red traffic light, I just stop.
Aliyah, was the same for me, it wasn’t a decision but a natural progression and understanding. Perhaps, not so much an understanding of what it meant to live in
My first encounter with
Unfortunately, even with the fall of the
In 2003 I came to Israel on a Bnei Akiva Olami (World Bnei Akiva) yearlong Hachshara program, where I further cemented my need to be here. However, having gained a vast amount of leadership training and knowledge I first returned to my community in New Zealand to impart all that I had learned. Only after I had given all that I could, I felt ready to fulfill my dream. To bring my body back to where my soul had been waiting.
The soul knows what it wants and doesn’t care about how good the body has it. That is why I never made the decision to make Aliyah. It happened because that it what the soul wanted.
To decide to change your place of residence, to become a citizen of a country that is not your birth country is to immigrate. When I moved to
I come from a typical Ashkenazi family. We wondered through
There is something special, aside form the obvious, in making Aliyah that those born here can never quiet grasp. With the act of making Aliyah, we each complete a journey threefold -for ourselves, our families, and our people-. It is mind-blowing to see prophesy realize itself – but to be part of it leaves me speechless.
Despite the importance of making Aliyah, anyone who says it's easy, has either not done it or was too young to remember. It's not easy; it may be one of the most trying times in ones life. Somehow everything in
Aliyah is not the destination, life is. Living in the
Mark Twain once asked us what our secret is. How is it that despite our meager numbers we have stood the test of time? How is it that despite others turning their heads to our suffering, we have survived? How is it that we have outlasted the greatest empires? He, and the world, saw us as the few, as the weak. They measured us by numeric strength. Mr. Twain was missing one piece of crucial information when he wrote his remarks. He saw as individuals; he did not see the rows upon rows of ancestors that stood and still stand behind us. With his question he missed the point; we have survived because we are a 'We' and not an 'I'.
This is the answer that I have found on my journey. But to each Oleh, to each Jew, there is a different answer to a different question. The important thing is not so much the answer but the search for it.
There is no where else in the world that a Jew can even begin to pose the right question – let alone begin to answer it.
Yom Haatzmaut sameach
Tafnit 5763/ 2003
Aliyah 5768/ 2008